When you’re considering ordering a redesign of your website or you’re shopping around for your first, it’s helpful to know what you’re looking for. Picking the right web design company to produce the website is often the most critical decision of all.
Making the right decision ensures that most things will go swimmingly (and those that don’t are resolvable). Choosing poorly leads to frustration, disappointment, and a bumpy start to the business’ online journey.
So, how do you choose a web design company? Here are some of the ways to go about doing so.
Choose a Web Design Company or Web Design Studio, Not a Freelancer
While freelancers are fine for somethings, honestly, the issue is that many disappear halfway through the project. This can lead to all manner of problems, including delays, lost money, and having to start over (to name just a few).
When working with a web design company like WSI Digital Web, you know they’re in this business for the long-haul and have a track history. Their brand is important to them, and they’re not likely to disappear overnight like a freelancer might when your emails suddenly go unanswered.
Your in-house team may have already brainstormed some ideas. However, let’s face it, web design isn’t their forte. Depending on how much everyone keeps up with the latest web design trends, the ideas could be quite dated.
A web design company will have many modern creative ideas depending on your industry and what you want the website to offer visitors. Many of these will be different from what you envisaged. But then, that’s why you hire them!
Look at their Portfolio
There’s nothing to stop you from checking out their current and previous clients.
Examine their project and case study information. Go to their clients’ live sites too. See when the site was designed by the web design firm and whether the design has been updated since? How long was the new design up before it was replaced again?
If the current site matches the one shown on a web design firm’s portfolio page, does the site function well and load quickly? Do you like it? Does it have functionality that you dislike and wish to note to a web design company to avoid for your site? Make notes to follow when talking to the design team.
Get in Touch with their Clients
Ask permission from the web design company to speak directly to a handful of their past clients.
Usually, they’re perfectly okay with this. Companies that have provided testimonials are likely to be receptive to a quick chat or an exchange of email about their experience working with this design company.
Taking this extra step will prove reassuring.
Don’t Trust Testimonials
Testimonials are hard to trust. Many are fake and the few that are real are kind of forced on clients to give a positive opinion.
Ignore them in favor of talking directly with the business owners to get their honest take a few months or a year after the start of the working relationship. That way, they’ve had time to get some perspective on it.
Discuss a Potential Project
Talk with the web design company over video chat. Zoom works fine and Skype, too, for virtual face-to-face meetings that are effective.
Come with a list of questions and a clear explanation about what you want your site to be like. This way, the design team can get up to speed on the video call quickly and provide specific responses. If you have ideas down on paper, provide those in advance to allow the company time to look them over and discuss it first.
Consider If It’s a Good Match
Sometimes people just don’t gel well, and the communication is fraught with difficulty from the outset.
Unless it’s immediately obvious from the outset, then longer-form communications will be required to see how the conversation is flowing. See how the back and forth proceeds with the flow of ideas to determine if they understand what you want in a site and are receptive to your input.
Trust your instincts. When it doesn’t feel right, that’s not something you can shake off. There also might be a reason that you cannot put your finger on as to why something feels “off”. Work with people who make you feel comfortable.
Custom Built or Not?
Does the web design company produce original designs as standalone projects, as a custom theme on the WordPress content management system (CMS), or use pre-existing themes?
Using a pre-designed theme and then modifying it is a useful shortcut for designers. However, it comes with several pros and cons. If the theme is flawed from a security standpoint, those flaws are inherited too. It may also restrict what design elements are modifiable as well.
With a custom build site, it’s all-new. While it can take a bit longer, it’s unique to your brand and can perform better too. Using WordPress as a CMS is fine – it will let you add new content later without needing their help. But then the theme (design) should be custom-built.
Relevant Industry Experience
Has the web design company already built sites for peers in your industry?
Is there any comparable website they produce that has a similar look and feel to what you’d want and feel is right for your industry?
It’s more of a risk if they don’t have anything to show in their portfolio in that vein.
How Usable are their Website Designs?
Do you find their sites easy to use and navigate? What’s the user experience like?
Do they load up quickly on the desktop and mobile devices?
Bear in mind that mobile is more important than ever now. How do their sites look on your smartphone? If they don’t look correct on an iOS or Android device, then don’t work with them.
Avoid Cheap Deals
Web design companies are expensive to operate.
A low-cost designer or one that’s offering too many discounts is one to avoid.
While it may look like a bargain, an effective company is continually busy with projects. They may even have a waiting list! Because of this, they don’t need to heavily discount across the board to entice clients to sign with them. That’s a red flag.
When following a few (or most) of the suggestions above, you’re far more likely to find a successful match. Then there should be a meeting of minds between the web design firm and yourself to partner up on the project to a successful conclusion.